Run a red light in Pasco, get a $125 ticket. Court gives police the green light to start

Pasco will begin mailing tickets Aug. 19 to the owners of vehicles seen running red lights at its two busiest intersections.

The city announced it received the go-ahead Wednesday from the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts to implement its electronic traffic control system.

The city contracted with Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems to operate the system. The red light cameras were installed this spring at Burden Boulevard and Road 68, and at Court Street and 20th Avenue.

Offenders began receiving written warnings by mail in May.

They expected to begin issuing tickets this spring but didn’t receive court approval until now.

Here’s a few things drivers need to know about Pasco’s red light cameras:

Where? Road 68 and Burden Boulevard, and North 20th and Court. Both busy intersections have higher-than-average accident rates and the problems are worsening with population growth.

Why? The crash rate for 20th and Court is 2.86 per million vehicles. For Road 68 and Burden, it is 1.2 per million. One or less is considered acceptable. Pasco wants to cut down on T-bone crashes, which injure and kill. Spokane experienced a 51 percent drop in T-bone wrecks after it installed red light cameras.

What? The 2005 Legislature legalized red light cameras as a public safety tool. Pasco joins about two dozen cities, from Seattle to Spokane. The rear part of car entering an intersection on a red light is recorded.

Now-retired Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger recommended the cameras to the Pasco City Council in 2018. The council signed off last August.

Who? A Pasco police officer will review images before a ticket is issued. Tickets will be mailed to the vehicle’s owner. They can be contested in Pasco Municipal Court.

How will a ticket affect my driving record? It shouldn’t, said Andrew Huff, a Seattle attorney who explained Washington’s red light camera law in a 2017 post at ahuff.law.com.

What happens to the pictures: Images are deleted if the officer decides there was no violation.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.